There was a new twist this weekend in the story of the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia. After the original video of most of the shooting was released, this story looked bad enough, but there was still a lot of debate over the guilt of the father and son shooters on social media. So when a new video surfaced yesterday, it was suggested that we might have a clearer picture of what happened. Unfortunately, having reviewed it several times, I really don’t see how this significantly changes the story or moves the ball further down the field.
According to the NY Post, the footage was recorded by a security camera only a few minutes before Arbery died. But as you will see, the camera was not located on the property in question.
New video has emerged in the February shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said it obtained a copy of the tape, which it said appeared to come from a home security camera and show someone who looked like Arbery walking around a home construction site.
It was shot minutes before the Feb. 23 killing.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said it was examining the footage.
Before we dig into this, here’s the video so you can check it out for yourself. There is no audio included on the track.
I hadn’t jumped on this story before now, mostly because Allahpundit did a fairly extensive review of both the original shooting and the subsequent arrest of Gregory and Travis McMichael. But as I mentioned above, I don’t really see how this new footage changes the story very much.
First of all, the footage might establish that Arbery was in the vicinity (which we already knew by virtue of his corpse being splayed out on the road), along with the route he took to the scene of the shooting and his activities in the minutes preceding the event. I say “might” because this isn’t particularly high-quality video and it was taken from a fair distance away. We see someone who definitely could be Arbery, given the seemingly similar clothing and proximity to the shooting site, but unless they have a much higher quality copy with better resolution, it could be tough to prove it definitively.
What was he doing there? The attorney for his family seems to be confirming that it was him and answering that question in a statement released after the new video emerged.
“Our office has reviewed the surveillance video which appears to show a person, believed to be Ahmaud Arbery, entering a property under construction. The individual remains on the property for under 3 minutes before continuing to jog down the road. This video is consistent with the evidence already known to us. Ahmaud Arbery was out for a jog. He stopped by a property under construction where he engaged in no illegal activity and remained for only a brief period. Ahmaud did not take anything from the construction site. He did not cause any damage to the property. He remained for a brief period of time and was not instructed by anyone to leave but rather left on his own accord to continue his jog. Ahmaud’s actions at this empty home under construction were in no way a felony under Georgia law. This video confirms that Mr. Arbery’s murder was not justified and the actions of the men who pursued him and ambushed him were unjustified. We reiterate, Ahmaud Arbery did not take part in ANY felony, had no illegal substances in his system, was not armed yet was shot three times with a shotgun at close range.”
Assuming for now that it’s the same person, we see Arbery walking around for a few minutes on a property where a house is under construction. He disappears at various points, leading some to believe that he might have been up to something suspicious. But he winds up leaving the property without anything being seen in his hands.
Does this change anything vis-à-vis the subsequent shooting? Let’s look at this in the worst possible light in terms of Arbery’s behavior. You can assume that while he was out for a run he decided to duck into the construction site, perhaps looking for something valuable to steal. Even if he had come out of that house with a satchel full of power tools, does that somehow justify what happened next?
The McMichaels and their friend who filmed the shooting supposedly suspected Arbery of being involved in some recent break-ins that took place in the neighborhood. That means that they were trailing him over a matter of, at worst, burglary, or possibly even nothing more than trespassing. The video presumably recorded by their friend “Roddy” has already caught up Greg McMichael in one lie. He didn’t “pull up next to” Arbery and ask him to stop so they could talk to him. The McMichaels had gotten ahead of him to cut off his path through the neighborhood.
At that point, even if you suspect the person is guilty of a nonviolent crime, you don’t jump out with weapons drawn to make a citizen’s arrest. (Remember that the elder McMichaels is a former cop.) If the person doesn’t seem inclined to talk to you and you really want to play private detective, you proceed to follow him while calling the actual cops on your cellphone to provide the location and details. The guy was on foot. It’s not like he was going to get away.
For those out there who are still trying to justify this shooting, you should probably give this one a pass. The fact is that we have a dead Black man who was pursued by two white guys, one of whom was probably in tight with most of the local law enforcement officials. The DA wasn’t “inclined” to press charges for two months, despite having the same damning video we all watched in his hands. In other words, the entire affair stinks on ice.
Yes, it’s true that we frequently see liberal activists crying racism and throwing around claims of excessive use of force in cases where a police shooting was probably fully justified. But this wasn’t a police shooting. It was a civilian shooting. And the identities of the people involved and the details of the events that played out over the past two months make suggestions of racist motives awfully hard to ignore. If we’re going to defend legitimate cases where lethal force is used and push back against claims of racism, we do ourselves no favors by turning a blind eye to a case like this or, worse, trying to defend the shooters. Unless and until some truly shocking exculpatory evidence emerges in the McMichaels’ favor, this looks like a case of a very serious crime indeed, but not one committed by Ahmaud Arbery.